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Schools History Project Essay Competition in association with Professor Peter Frankopan, No More Marking and Hodder Education


Schools History Project Essay Competition

in association with Professor Peter Frankopan, No More Marking and Hodder Education






*** In response to questions that have been asked about the scope of the question, the deadline, prizes, sixth-form eligibility, independent schools and home-schooled students, this post has been updated ***


These are strange times indeed.

As we are all finding news ways of working, why not use this as an opportunity to broaden your curriculum, develop students’ research skills, practise their extended writing and give them some choice about what it is they are studying? The whole world is facing a new problem. So, why not give your students an opportunity to find out more about the wider world?

Why not invite your students to take part in the Schools History Project’s nation-wide essay competition in collaboration with a world-leading historian and an exciting education research company?

What is it?

It is an essay competition open with two categories – one for primary-school-age pupils and one for secondary-school-age pupils.
The task is straightforward, they must use the resources at their disposal to answer the following question, set by the world-leading Oxford history Professor Peter Frankopan (@peterfrankopan) and author of The Silk Roads – A New History of the World:

“If 1066 is said to be the most important date in English history, what is the equivalent in another country?”


Simple? Yes and no – we want to widen the scope of students’ historical studies and so you should bear in mind that essays that do not deal with Western Europe and North America post-1492 and will be more generously marked by assessors. 

Also, extra credit will be given for geographical and chronological ambition.


How will you decide on the winner?

The essays, once complete, should be submitted to students’ usual history teachers. Teachers will have an opportunity to look at students’ work and offer some feedback (please see ‘Can I help my students?’ below) this should allow teachers to use these essays to meet schools’ requirements for assessment etc. Teachers will then select the best essay from each school to submit to the national competition. A panel put together by the Schools History Project will use No More Markings’ (@nmmarking) very clever comparative judgement software to whittle these submissions down to a Long List. (If teachers wish to be involved at this stage to find out more about comparative judgement or to see how their students’ efforts stack up against the best of the rest, they should please email

The Long List will, in turn, be passed on to Professor Frankopan and his panel of expert historians. From the Long List, a Short List will be chosen for both the primary and secondary age-groups. These essays will then be recorded by professional actors and presenters and shared online – we are in negotiation with some exciting people.

The eventual winner will be chosen by public vote on social media.

Who does what?
Students Students write essays.
Teachers Students’ usual history teacher will decide which is the best essay from their school and email it in.
Long List Panel The Long List panel will use No More Marking’s comparative judgement software to create a Long List for primary-age students and one for secondary-age students. (If teachers wish to find out more about No More Marking’s comparative judgement process, they are welcome to be involved at this stage.)
Short List Panel Professor Peter Frankopan and his team will decide on a primary-age and secondary-age Short List.
Presentation of the Short List The shortlisted essays will be recorded by professional actors and presenters.
Public Vote The winner of each category will be decided by public vote on social media.


Who is this competition for?

All primary, secondary and 6th form / FE students – there will, in effect, be three competitions; one for primary school-aged students, one for secondary school-aged students and one for 6th form / FE students

How do I get started?

Simply tell your students what the task is. However, it would be helpful if you could just drop a quick email to with your school name just so we have some idea of how many people are taking part.

Am I allowed to help my students?

Yes – to an extent. The rules are similar to the old rules for coursework: teachers can review (but not mark) a draft and advice can be given. However, teachers shouldn’t tell their students’ what to write. If you wish to give different feedback, please would you do it after you have chosen your students’ best essay and submitted your entry? Thanks.

How will this be fair?

Won’t people cheat? Possibly. But, let’s assume that most people are nice and that, even in a time of straitened circumstances, most people will act well.

Is there a word limit?

Yes, 800 words. What if my students want to write about a ‘city-state’, ‘nation’, ‘tribe’, empire … instead of a ‘country’? Great! We’re pretty relaxed about the definition of ‘country’.

I’m a teacher. How do I submit the best essay from my school?

  • Select your best essay.
  • Remove all pupil identification details from the essay.
  • Save the essay as a PDF file.(If you can’t manage this don’t worry – we will accept other formats!)
  • Name the file with your school’s 7-digit DfE number and whether it is primary, secondary, or FE. For example, you might save it as 2016000Primary, 2016000Secondary or 2016000FE. · If you don’t know what your DfE number is, you can find it here.
  • If you’re an international school and don’t have a DfE number, use your school name instead.
  • Email the PDF as an attachment to Put your DfE number and primary / secondary / FE in the subject of the email too.

I’m a home-schooled student and I’d like to submit an essay. Can I?

Yes, but we will only be able to consider a maximum of 100 home-schooled submissions, so get in quick! Please follow these instructions.

  • Save the essay as a PDF file.(If you can’t manage this don’t worry – we will accept other formats!)
  • Name the file with your name and whether it is primary, secondary, or FE. For example, you might save it as JoeBloggsPrimary
  • Email the PDF as an attachment to Put your name and primary / secondary / FE in the subject of the email too

What’s the deadline?

The deadline has been extended to the 25th May 09:00 GMT. Any submission that has an email time-stamp after this deadline will not be considered.

When will the winners be announced?

Sometime reasonably soon after the deadline. Like everybody at the moment, we don’t quite know what the future holds.

Will there be a prize?

There will be prizes of signed history books for the winners of all competitions but, also, their schools will receive prizes as well.

We are proud to announce that Hoddder Education have generously offered the following:

  • Two free subscriptions to Rising Stars History digital resources for the school with the winning pupil from the primary competition (the winning school can choose two year groups they’d like from Years 1 to 6)
  •  £100 worth of free Hodder Education History books for the two schools with the winning students from the KS3/4 and KS5 competitions (winning schools can choose any books they’d like from Hodder Education’s History range)

As well as these prizes, we are delighted that History Today magazine have generously offered a year’s subscription to their brilliant online archive to each of the KS3/4 and KS5 winners.


  1. Hi
    I’ve shared it with yr 13 too – are they eligible? Just in case they feel like entering…

  2. Sounds like a really good idea and one I will be sharing with some of my classes. Question, can a whole class collaborate on this essay and submit one essay amongst themselves, or must it be one individual per essay?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Nura,
      Glad you think it’s a good idea. We are looking for one essay per individual.

      • Am I correct – same essay title for all levels, eg. Primary, Secondary and Sixth form, But only 1 entry per school? Thanks

        • Hi Claire,

          We would welcome one entry per-school-per-key stage.

          Good luck!

  3. Such a pity it’s only for English students. Great idea by the way!

    • Hi Ellen,

      I hope that our update makes it clear that it isn’t just for English students.

  4. Are students in the Channel Islands allowed to enter?

  5. Fantastic idea. Thank you!

  6. Can people from the U.S submit their work? Additionally, I do not have a history teacher for my grade, so I was wondering if I can submit independently?


    • Dhruv,

      If you don’t have a history teacher, have a look at the update about home-schooled students.

  7. I hope that our update makes it clear that Y13 are very much welcome.

  8. What does it mean by geographical ambition?

    • As I sure that you are aware, there is a good deal of debate in English history-teaching circles about the breadth of the current curriculum in many schools. In a truly globalised world, are students taught enough about the history of the world? Is the curriculum representative of the cultural heritage of students in today’s Britain? Are curricula representative of the diversity of peoples that existed in the past, across and within societies? Do our curricula help students to situate the history they know within wider geographical and chronological frameworks?…

      This essay question is designed to give teachers and students an opportunity to address some of these questions, albeit in a modest way.

      So, if you are given an opportunity to write about any place in any point in time, I would suggest that an essay about British colonial Australia is less ambitious than an essay about ancient Sumer. While Australia is physically more distant, perhaps Sumer is culturally more distant.

      Does this mean an essay about Australia in the c.19th can’t win?

      No. The best essay will win, however, if there are two essays on equal quality, the one dealing with a more ‘distant’ topic will probably be regarded more highly by the judges.

      I hope this helps.

  9. Hi, Please could you clarify how strict you are regarding the word limit?
    Thank you

    • I think that it would be hard to notice 10% either side of 800…

  10. Do I need to include source citations in my essay to denote which resources I used to write my essay?

    • No, not necessarily. Wouldn’t hurt, though.

  11. Does the title count towards the 800 words?

  12. Do you win a trophy or a medal?

  13. Does the essay have to be about one year like 1545 or can it be a period of time, during which important wars were fought?

  14. can the essay look at the conflict of two countries and the impact it had on each of them individually

  15. Hi
    I’m just choosing my best ones. Would ‘Antarctica’ be accepted as an area of focus?

  16. Hello,
    We are an 11-18 secondary so I think this means we can submit a KS3, 4 and 5 essay. Please can I ask if we can submit two KS4 essays instead of one KS4 and one KS5 essay? I have two KS4 essays that I feel are stronger than the the KS5 entries.


  17. What social media platform will you use to vote on the winner ?


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